Recommendations (Water)

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Headline Recommendations

  1. Challenge: There is no substitute for long-term take-or-pay bulk water purchase agreements between creditworthy parties to support financing of new water supply projects. Solution: The GRP must enhance creditworthiness of water supply agencies such as the MWSS with performance undertakings.Alternatives: The MWSS concessionaires voluntarily enter into take-or-pay contracts for bulk water supply projects supported by their balance sheets or fund major new water supply projects directly.
  2. Challenge: Public policies, rules, and regulations for water are administered by numerous departments and agencies thereby undermining its development. Solutions: Rationalize water supply administration and policy via a Water Reform Act; strengthen the National Water Resources Board (NWRB). Establish a Department of Water and an independent water regulator. Develop a National Water Master Plan that identifies major water resources and treatment requirements; establish supportive policies, rules, and regulations.
  3. Challenge: New dams to provide additional water supplies for Metro Manila should be built. Solutions: Engage the private sector, preferably through transparent bidding. The policy disallowing “take-or-pay” and sovereign guarantees needs to be reviewed. Smaller and less expensive Sierra Madre or Wawa projects should be moved forward while the approach to the Laiban project is decided.

Recommendations (9):

A. The NWRB’s efforts towards adopting an integrated water resource management framework should be pursued and encouraged. Central to this is the establishment of an independent water regulator. A Department of Water (similar to the DOE) should be created to develop the country’s water system. (Medium-term action NWRB and Congress)

B. Legislate a Water Reform Act that will establish the institutional and legal framework to guide cooperation by on private and government entities in developing water sources throughout the country as well as a separate government agency for water regulation. The proposed industry regulator ideally should be empowered to set water tariffs; set and monitor compliance with service levels; set policies, rules, and standards; enforce competition policy; and approve proposed investment in the sector. The proposed legislation would include the institutional framework for sustainable water resource development, require the formation of a long-term management plan, establish river basin organizations. The budget should provide funding for a realistic capacity building program. (Medium-term action NWRB and Congress)

C. The Water Reform Act should lead to a master plan and integrated water policy on how to develop each water source, the capacity each source creates taking into account future demand supported by technical feasibility studies, as well as policies to attract large investors and lenders. The Water Reform Act should clarify the limits of LGU authority regarding national projects. (Immediate action. OP, NEDA, NWRB, and Congress)

D. Until such legislation is enacted and implemented, the executive branch should continue its current policy of strengthening the NWRB. The agency’s capacity to address water pricing or tariff issues and to establish and safeguard service standards should be supported. The present direction and mandate of the Local Water Utilities Administration (LWUA) should also be revisited. (Immediate action NWRB and OP)

E. Allow the market to determine the wholesale price of water. (Immediate action NWRB)

F. For PPP water projects, the GRP should revisit its policy disallowing “take-or-pay” or sovereign guarantees, in the light of what makes sound economic sense. Various PPP models (BOT, JV, or concession) may be used. A publicly tendered or solicited project is usually preferable. Whichever model is chosen will depend on the government’s policy to attract investments and ensure contractual stability. (Immediate action DOF and NEDA)

G. While the GRP remains unable to resolve issues relating to developing the Laiban project, it must begin working on plans for other alternatives – such as the water supply projects of Sierra Madre and Wawa, which can be completed at reasonable cost. (Immediate action NWRB and NEDA)

H. To better maintain and improve irrigation systems, encourage private sector investment through privatization of irrigation. (Medium-term action NWRB and NIA)

I. Implement measures to reduce silt and garbage in waterways and prevent flooding, including better drainage, sewage, dikes, spillways, and planting trees. (Immediate action LGUs, NDCC, DPWH, and private sector)

FGD Participants, Moderator and Secretariat Members
November 17, 2009 Joint Foreign Chambers of the Philippines FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION ON POWER AND WATER